I have made it very clear on this blog and to many that I have talked to that I never have and never will like Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. I wrote about him here, $5 billion unspent by the Anti-Morale Device as one example. When he was the Commander in Afghanistan (for 3 years) he grossly mis-managed the war effort. He tried to implement a false sense of success. This is why ADM Mullen stated in 2007 that the war was not managed correctly for the previous 3 years.
Eikenberry was known on Camp Eggers and by his staff as the “Commander, Morale Suppression Team”. When he was not on the Camp all of his staff celebrated. One time he came down to my FOB to talk to some of the guys on the “tip of the spear” my ETT team. We welcomed the chance to tell him the real deal ground truth. However right before he showed up we were told he did not want to hear bad news or anyone talking bad about Afghans. He only wanted “good news stories”. After my team spoke a few expletives, we all went back to our rooms and said to let us know when he was gone so we could come out again. If he didn’t want the truth, then we had no reason to talk to him. The I saw his path of destruction first hand and have ZERO respect for him.
So, needless to say this great Op-Ed from Trudy Rubin (who’s opinions and insight into Afghanistan I love to read) I knew I had to write about it.
Perhaps the most surprising divergence between the two men is their approach to Karzai. Eikenberry the diplomat (who is also a retired general and former U.S. commander in Kabul) has a strained relationship with the Afghan leader. McChrystal, the general, diplomatically praises Karzai in public and has encouraged him to take a more active role in efforts to stabilize Kandahar. The general has perhaps the best relationship with Karzai of any U.S. official.
After the unproductive war of words between the White House and Karzai, the administration seems to have adopted the McChrystal approach of public praise, while reserving tough talk for private meetings.
But it’s disconcerting to see the top two U.S. civilian and military officials working on such different wavelengths. If U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is to be effective, they must work as a team.
She has outed some of the behind the scenes issues between a guy who was mistakenly put into place as an Ambassador to Afghanistan after he mis-handled the war there for three years and a guy who is there doing great things and oh by the way, got his fourth star out of this command. If you ask me Karl (E3) Eikenberry is just as full of hate and jealousy towards GEN McChrystal as he was towards US Military who tried to hold Afghans accountable for their substandard performance.
Read Trudy’s entire Op-Ed HERE.